WordPress and Drupal have been on the market more or less for the same time, which is why they have a pretty similar reputation.
Drupal CMS, nevertheless, seems to have transmitted the leadership to WordPress quite easily, as the platform has 10 times more users than Drupal, and is only becoming more and more popular. But does this really mean that a Drupal website will be less proficient than a WordPress one?
From what we know, neither of the two online content management systems requires too much coding or technical expertise, which means they’re both ideal for beginners and inexperienced users. But let’s compare them in detail:
Which one is easier to use?
Regardless of whether we’re experienced in website management or looking to launch one from scratch, we’d all opt for a CMS that is easy to use. In this case, beginners with limited knowledge looking to run their site immediately should definitely overlook Drupal and move to WordPress. The later is the more user-friendly option which makes it possible to blog within minutes, and that’s all because it provides an easy WYSUWYG editor.
WordPress will become even handier as you get a grasp on its functionality, as it has an amazingly large community of users that are willing to respond to all of your questions and queries. Drupal’s community is not small either, but it is still the smaller from the two.
In terms of functionality, advantage must be given to Drupal, but that’s exactly what makes it more complicated to use. Let’s say that Drupal will give you more of what you perceive to be full control over your content, but the question then would be whether you know how to handle those advanced features.
Without the necessary knowledge, they will only confuse you, or hinder your work with details you don’t even need. Unlike WordPress, Drupal makes use of content types, content blocks, taxonomies, analytics views, and many other features that can be a blessing in disguise for professional users.
Thereof, choose Drupal to manage a variety of content types and page templates. Doing so, you will also get advanced user permissions, and appoint a site admin that will decide who gets to edit and see personalized content. What this means is that a Drupal site can be managed by multiple stakeholders at once, which is not the case with WordPress.
In terms of upgrading your CMS, WordPress is again the simpler choice as it updates automatically in every 3 or 4 months, and doesn’t require IT involvement to do so. Drupal, on the other hand, has a specific upgrading process (sometimes even by replacing your whole design), and can hardly be completed without the help of a professional programmer.
But what is the logic behind it? Let’s say that Drupal was a gift from developers to developers, which can be as good as it is bad in certain cases. Professional site management in Drupal requires solid experience, not just because you can mess up its functionality, but also because without knowledge, you’ll be ignoring some of its most important features an expert would appreciate. The good side of the story is that developers are already working to simplify the CMS (Drupal 8), and make it more accessible to first-time users.
WordPress, at the same time, derives from the idea of a casual blogging no-brainer which would be extremely easy to use, and where each and every of us could write down thoughts while on the move. This is why developers made the effort to provide us with handy mobile apps, automated upgrades, and unlimited responsiveness in all circumstances. Drupal, however, doesn’t have a mobile app yet.
By customization, we refer to the possibility to tweak functionality and make on-site operations activity-specific and to add plugins and themes that would expand the functionality of your website. In short, customization refers to how ‘changeable’ the initial version of your website is.
The absolute winner in this category would once again be WordPress, as developers ensured users would have access to more than 35,000 plugins (roughly estimated to 37,000 so far and growing as we speak), and just as many themes which come as free or premium. If you have a solid premium theme combined with the right plugins, there is almost nothing you can’t do on your WordPress websites.
The rationale behind it is the open-source community of developers which is huge and devoted and works constantly to improve users’ experience. With Drupal, flexibility is somehow granted and no plugins are necessary to make changes, but that’s once again only when you know how to make use of it.
Drupal does offer a number of advanced plugins and modules that are very convenient, but which would require you to pay much more. Plus, the themes for Drupal are not as many as the ones for WordPress, and users usually end up paying designers to revamp their website and make it unique.
The main reason why Drupal charges more than WordPress is the availability of good developers who’d work on it. As you can imagine, the job market comes tight compared to the one of WordPress.
The core versions of both CMSs are free to download and you only pay to use premium themes and plugins, in which case you’d pay more for Drupal than for WordPress (considerably more!). Nevertheless, Drupal’s free themes are good enough for you to skip paying for premium ones.
Protection and security
The leader here is Drupal. Generally, WordPress is a safe CMS too, but its huge popularity doesn’t really make it undesired by hackers. Plus, there are a variety of free plugins and cheap themes you’d be tempted to install, and which bring up more vulnerabilities to your website that you’ll actually be aware of. Interestingly enough, the best way to protect your data is to install a security plugin to keep you safe.
Drupal is a whole different story, as it comes packed with enterprise-grade and in-depth security features, which is why large corporations and governments decide for it. Currently, it is also being used by whitehouse.gov.
Besides, security mechanisms have improved significantly throughout the years, and many platform-specific applications have appeared to help users handle risks. Drupal users should consider Pantheon and Acquia, while WordPress ones should give a look to MediaTemple and their WP service. Remember that it is the server where most vulnerabilities are coming from, so make sure you’re working with a reputed host that won’t cause you additional protection troubles.
If we had to choose a winner, we’d say Drupal. This platform was designed exactly to eliminate size concerns, which is how it handles single-page static sites just as well as it does dynamic ones with hundredths of pages. Plus, Drupal won’t ask you to compromise on traffic – thousands of people can read the same content simultaneously, and the website will still perform impeccably.
WordPress is a reasonable option too, having in mind that it is predominantly a blogging platform looking to accommodate large portions of content, but does slow reading down more frequently than Drupal.
When it comes to SEO, you should have in mind that SERP rankings don’t really depend on the platform you’re using, but rather if you applied all needed tricks to distribute content properly. SEO comes with both platforms – Drupal uses it by default, why WordPress expects the use to install a variety of plugins that can enhance it.
With loading times being the essential criteria for good ranking, you should remember that it is Drupal pages that load much faster (because of default caching), and that’s what will attract the engine’s attention. Plus, Drupal’s loading is not really tackled by the amount of content displayed, and engines also like sites that offer plenty of content.
The most important differentiation point is how the two platforms handle mobile optimization. Drupal’s mobile themes, to start with, will run much better off a subdomain, which means there should be two different URLs which would index them on search engines (www.yoursite.com and www.m.yoursite.com). In WordPress, things are done much simpler, as almost all themes are mobile-responsive, and indexation issues are handled back-end. You really need to take care of mobile indexation in time, so that the website versions run both from the same domain and Google is not confused whether there are two sites or one.
Drupal also gives you more content fields for each page, which can by choice appear on both subdomains or only on the mobile one.
If you ask a WordPress user, he’d probably tell you that the reason he chose this platform is the availability of plugins, including such that make use of social media and handle SEO. In the Drupal scenario, these plugins are called modules and come for free despite being just as powerful as their WordPress counterparts (especially when speaking of Drupal 8). The challenge is how you’d manage their functionality, as most essential module updates in Drupal will make you dependant on your developer.
When running a creative agency site, for instance, and wish to redesign your theme and to showcase unique projections, Drupal will be a piece of work but it will help a lot. This is because you can customize it and because it stores without any problem all of your clients’ and corporate data. With priorities such as storage, email marketing, or even retail, Drupal is the way to go.
If interested to publish or multi-author content, on the other hand, WordPress will be just fine. Nevertheless, try to predict the growth and development of your website, as WordPress may not be enough to handle sudden traffic spikes. Obviously, you can always change CMSs with a large website at stake, but that’s just a long, complicated, and too expensive process.
For those of you looking to build a ‘one of a kind’ website, Drupal has the right advanced toolkit and undisputed flexibility. Once the ropes are mastered and page caching is understood, Drupal can help you build all types and genres of websites which look just the way you want them to.
The usability advantage of WordPress remains, as this is what makes the platform way more popular. It is supported, easy to set up, and even easier to use. If you know how to combine themes and plugins, there is no reason to worry that WordPress won’t meet your projects and design needs.